Saturday, January 6, 2007

Just Finished: "The Guns of Heaven" by Pete Hamill

Just finished The Guns of Heaven by Pete Hamill, 0843955953, 2006 (originally published 1983).

Not bad. Another Hard Case Crime novel. The only thing I knew about Pete Hamill is that he is a journalist and wrote a memoir about being a drunk. The bio on his webpage lists additional fiction work by Hamill. I figured he only wrote this one and a couple other novels. Guess not.

Sam Briscoe is a journalist on a writing assignment to Belfast, Northern Ireland. He's also in town to visit his Uncle Frank who used to be an active bigwig in the Provisional IRA. Briscoe is sympathetic to the IRA side of the conflict and after Frank arranges an interview with a shadowy Provo commander the commander asks Briscoe to deliver an envelope to a IRA colleague in New York City.

After the interview Briscoe's Uncle Frank is murdered and three days later Briscoe travels on to see his teen daughter who attends boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland. While in Geneva, Briscoe recognizes a tail from Belfast and goes into high alert. Briscoe does not know who is following him. Is it the SAS? The Provos? The UVF? But, he figures the tail is related to the envelope he carries and that his life in in danger.

Briscoe flees with his daughter, drops her at her mother's in Spain, and travels to NYC where he delivers the envelope to an Irish bar. After delivery he spots another tail, beats the guy up and the sees the Irish bar blown up. Things get worse from there. Briscoe knows too much and someone is trying to shut him up. Briscoe's daughter is kidnapped, Briscoe himself is captured, and people get shot.

Not that bad overall but it read like a part of a series. The character refers to past history and events that explain Briscoe's background and add interest to the character. But, Hamill does not expound on those events like a one-off novel usually does. The strong part of Guns are the discussion of Northern Ireland politics and the extremists. A tough guy journalist just doesn't fit the genre.

Not sure I'll take another of his books if something else is available.

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